Magazine article The Spectator

Instinct or Brains?

Magazine article The Spectator

Instinct or Brains?

Article excerpt

CALCULATING odds has never been my strong point, but I couldn't even have begun to weigh up the probabilities involved in a grand slam played at the recent Lederer tournament in London. The contract was 7[diamonds] and of the three experts who played it (Zia Mahmood, Tom Townsend and Phil King) only one, Zia, made it:

In every case, West led the [spades]Q, and all three started by setting up clubs. When West showed up with a third club they had to ruff with dummy's [diamonds]K. Now the critical point had been reached: how to play trumps. King and Townsend both played a diamond to the [diamonds]A and went back to dummy's [hearts]A to finesse the [diamonds]10. This would have succeeded if West had held the singleton [diamonds]J or East held [diamonds]Jxx - but failed on the actual lie of the cards.

Zia took a different line: after ruffing a club with the [diamonds]K, he played a diamond to the [diamonds]8! …

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